Monday, December 22, 2008

Ten Christmases

Today, I watched the movie, Four Christmases with Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon and boy did it ring true. Traveling from house to house to house, and by the end, you start to question what the whole thing is even about. It's enough to make you not want to celebrate at all.

Except my version would be called Ten Christmases. I even came up with a coding system on my detailed week planner to make sure we're seeing everybody. My immediate family, my mom's family, my dad's family, Andrew's immediate family on his dad's side, Andrew's immediate family on his mom's side, Andrew's dad's family, Andrew's mom's family, Andrew's stepdad's family, Andrew's stepmom's family and then, of course, we need to save time just for Andrew and me. And somewhere in the midst of all the chaos, we stop to ask ourselves why.

Why do we drive all over the Greater St. Louis area 5 times in one day? Why do we go see one family just to see the basic components of that family with a few additions a few hours later? Why do we eat cookie after cookie? Why do even bother taking off our coats?

In the movie, this same basic plot laid itself out, so that at one point, the main character's didn't even know who they were or what they were doing. It was that crazy. But somehow, by the end (of course), they realized, more than ever, what the meaning of family was and why they needed them. The ritual suddenly seemed important, nay, crucial to their lives.

And already in the midst of a weeklong battle for my time, I often stop to ask myself why and start to go crazy. Until I realize just how important family and friends are to me, and the why becomes so obvious. I need these crazy busy trips to St. Louis.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

gone

I have tried. Really, I have.
I bought 4 CDs - 70 songs.
I bought a new movie and watched it.
I decorated.
I baked cookies and dipped pretzels.
I went to parties.
I bought outfits for the cat.
I've watched all the special episodes.
I even watched the muppets.
I've bought gifts.
I've gotten gifts.
I went to the special presentation at church.
I've listened to special sermons.
I taught special Sunday School lessons.
I even taught it to my 6th graders in a comparison of other cultural celebrations.
I've worn the special colors and special jewelry.

Nobody can say I haven't tried.

But I can't seem to find the holiday spirit within me. It's not there. It was killed by the cynic. The realist who doesn't buy the BS. The tack. The greed. The COLD. The traffic. The stress.

The grinch inside of me says "Bah Humbug" (yes, mixed metaphors. It's that bad).

In all fairness, you had to see this coming.
At least last year, I seemed to find some sort of hope.
Don't say I didn't warn you...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

meany-head

So I've got another teacher story to tell:

We went to a block schedule this year with A and B days. Well, we also have C days on Wednesdays where we meet with every class for 35 minutes. On 4 day weeks, we just scrap the C day and ABAB. It's ok if you can't follow along, either can we. All you really need to know is that classes were shorter and we still aren't quite used to the schedule. Not to mention, I'm fighting off a winter cold and didn't want to wake up this morning...

So it's 2nd period, and I'm apparently in the no-tolerance zone. I'm snapping at students and being really sarcastic and demanding with them. At one point, I kicked a couple students out of my class for interrupting me. And I finally get my class focused to teach and I hear commotion in the hallway, so I go out and yell at them.
Not just a "Be quiet!" like usual, but a full-out lecture on how its rude to be loud in the hallways while a teacher is trying to teach and how would they like it if i made a lot of noise in the hallway while they were trying to work, etc etc...
and I return to my class who immediately becomes stoic and is paying attention as I continue. More noise in the hallway draws their attention away again, and so I yell, "Is there somebody teaching in the hallway? Is that why your attention is there and not on me? Or is there somebody right in front of you trying to teach that you should pay attention to??"
So I get their attention again and continue to tell them what their homework is going to be for tomorrow.
Being a schedule I'm not familiar with and feeling toward the end of my lesson, I check the schedule on the wall and look at my watch to see how much time I have left. I get a real confused look on my face as I keep trying to figure it out because the time on my watch is 10:32 and there's nothing on the schedule that fits that.
I couldn't make sense of it, until a student, very quietly and politely says to me, "um, you were supposed to let us out of class 5 minutes ago..."

ohhhhh.....
so that explains the commotion in the hallway...
I immediately dismiss them and tell them I'll notify their teachers.
To top it all off, one student says on his way out, "I thought about telling you, but I didn't want you to yell at me for being off-topic."

Yeeeaaahhh.... I'm one of those teachers that the students are so afraid of, they won't even tell me when class is over...

Friday, December 5, 2008

6th graders

There are so many moments that I think to myself "Oh I should write that down" and most of these moments happen in my classroom. I honestly think 6th graders are the cutest, funniest, most adorable group of people in the world. The things that come out of their mouths would make you laugh so hard...
and for so long I've wanted to share cute funny adorable stories with you... but by the time I get home and get to posting (which is long after ive checked email, facebook ten times, etc), I really do forget the details. And I hate telling stories where I don't remember the details (that's where the greatness lies of course).

So alas, no stories.
Besides, there's a large part of me that thinks you wouldn't appreciate them nearly as much as I would. Although some of the things are truly universal.

well, let's try this one that just came to me:

So as class is getting started yesterday, a student says to me, "You look just like this teacher I had last year."
I instantly reply, "So she must have been beautiful...?"
[Laughter] "Oh no..."

I suppose I set myself up for that one, but I really thought I taught my students to at least lie for tact's sake... which I instantly taught him, don't you worry and he instantly corrected himself.
Oh, the real lessons of the classroom...

Monday, December 1, 2008

long december

I'm not much of a poet or into literary symbolism as my AP Eng teachers would hope, but there is one metaphor that really always stuck with me:

Winter

the cold, crisp air
the dying of nature
the hibernation of animals and people
the early dusks and late dawns

and December continues the illusion

the end of a year
the conclusion of holiday anticipation
the reflections and lists
the finality of another chapter

and so i've got this "end" in mind and that something is "dying"

this is the coldest darkest time for me, where i just want to hibernate and reflect upon what's been before i continue on...
it's already december, and it feels like it's going to be a long one.

oh, and January or February don't exactly get much better. at least i have a fireplace this year.

Friday, November 21, 2008

lessons from media

I like to think of myself as an innovative teacher. I think outside the traditional box. As a matter of fact, I try to avoid the box altogether. I am allowed a lot of freedoms at my school since it's somewhat of a special interest program. We believe student outcomes are greater than test scores. A mark of a good education is that people can think for themselves and can learn on their own. So we try to do lessons that teach that instead of just names and dates.
This week, I needed something. I didn't have anything in the lesson books. Then, last week while watching a training video, the speaker mentioned something about the use of songs and how students can relate modern day lyrics to the book their reading about Medieval times (as an example).
I've always been a believer that songs, movies and TV shows can teach us a lot. As a matter of fact, I've been tempted to write whole series of blogs around that very topic. And I still just might.
But this week, I decided to take that concept to my classroom. I wanted them to review the concepts we had studied about the U.S. before we moved on to other countries. I also wanted them to see those concepts go beyond the Social Studies classroom. They are everywhere. If media is a reflection of real life, and media talks about these concepts, then these concepts are real life. I wanted them to see the concepts and make them real.
During the first half of the week, in class, we watched clips from Friends (Geography), Remember the Titans (Integration), Footloose (Rights), and A League of Their Own (prejudice - sexism) and also listened to Michael Jackson's song Black or White (prejudice - racism) and Carrie Underwood's song, I Aint in Checotah Anymore (Geography).
Then, we finished off the week by listening to clips from Michael Jackson's song, Man in the Mirror (open-ended), U2's song Pride (In the Name of Love) (Civil Rights Movement) and No Doubt's Different People (Integration). They were also shown clips from National Treasure (History), The Little Mermaid (Prejudice) and my personal favorite, Napoleon Dynomite (Elections).
The first time through the clips, I provided the answers for them (What topic does this fit (see parentheses)? Describe the clip. How does the clip represent the topic?). Then, during the last part of the week, they had to come up with the answers on their own in a small group. Watching something and then being able to tell me how it relates to what they studied in class is a skill that may not ever be tested, but by golly, it's real learning. I hope they have the ability to do that with everything they watch or listen to from now on.
I just really liked this lesson and how it turned out. I had to brag. I hope you like it, too.
Oh, but don't let the word spread too much, I didn't exactly seek administrator approval for the showing of clips (I think I may have needed to), but I made sure not to show anything above PG and I could clearly relate it to my curriculum, so I shouldnt get in too much trouble ;)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

photos

I thought it'd be fun to do a photo post of some fun things I've been doing lately. Yes, most of these are on Facebook, but now they're here too! :)



A Labor Day road trip to Waco (Dr. Pepper Museum)/Austin (Capital building)



A lazy Sunday (its our reflection in the laptop)

Toga Party



My kitty:






Now, that was fun. Good times, good times.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

school

I decided that I do in fact think my kids are better this year than last. and my 2nd year is better than my 1st.
Now that things are well under way, and I'm comfortable in my classroom (which really does feel different even though it mostly looks the same), I realized that I like my second year.
I still have some of the same ol struggles of not being prepared, not fully knowing what i'm teaching (ok, i have to teach the cultures of the world - the whole freakin world), having too much on my plate, not really knowing how to challenge the smarter students while making sure the slower students are on the same page (sometimes literally). But I take comfort in knowing that I'm getting better at all of those things and that even veteran teachers haven't quite figured some of them out.
There's a part of me that will always love and romanticize my first year and my first students. They were truly a part of something special. But seeing them in seventh grade and comparing them to my darling sixth graders, I realize that I do have a good bunch this year. They are sweet, attentive, interested in learning. I have some that are very smart, but they don't necessarily blow my class off. I have some that are not quite with us, but are working very hard to get there. They all seem to like me (which yes, is important to me) and have fun with me.

I offered an opportunity to participate in putting together a mock election on this campus (which again, shows how much i've grown that i'm willing to sponsor something on my own!). I had 3 7th and 3 8th graders show up and about 20 6th graders. They all jumped right in and are planning this whole thing. They are making the decisions. They are creating the ballots and working the registration table. They are creating booths and deciding what would be an appropriate distance for privacy. They decided that a photo ID is required and that they need to register ahead of time in order to make it realistic. They researched outside of class and discussed with adults how our election could be as much like the real one as possible. I could not be more proud of them (and ok I'm proud of myself for following through).

I think this year is going to be ok.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

joy

along those same lines:

Things that bring me joy:
1. singing, especially in the shower or in the car
2. discussing life with close friends
3. my cat - holding her, watching her play, etc.
4. laughing with my students
5. hanging out with the youth
6. Friday night bowling with coworkers
7. watching and discussing tv/movies
8. playing with puppies
9. eating delicious foods - both salty and sugary
10. reading/learning
11. testing my knowledge (trivia, puzzles, etc)
12. laughing with my husband
13. being complimented/acknowledged
14. great weather
15. planning events

and now I just have to figure out how to combine this list with the last...

Friday, October 3, 2008

striving towards

In light of a previous post (one before last) and a recent blog, I have decided to make two lists:

Things that strengthen my relationship with Christ:
1. Dr. Marr and Southcliff Baptist Church: weekly challenges, faithful community
2. The youth at Southcliff: interacting with them, teaching them, watching them grow
3. Reading my Bible: the stories, the challenges, the encouragement.
4. Chatting with my husband.
5. Thinking about the past.
6. Thinking about my future.
7. Teaching
8. My email group
9. Nature
10. The right kind of song
11. Singing
12. Being loved
13. Thinking about tough controversial issues
14. Watching movies
15. A beautiful day like today
16. Thinking about pregnancy
17. Thinking about money
18. Realizing how lucky I am right now
19. Bubble baths
20. Reading
21. Writing
22. the daily moment of silence at my school
23. my morning shower

Things that weaken my relationship with Christ:
1. Busy-ness
2. too much TV
3. the wrong kind of movie
4. thinking I am number one.
5. Sleeping in/staying up
6. the wrong crowd
7. stress
8. the attitude that I'm always right
9. dissension
10. loud neighbors
11. an oppressive boss
12. my Sunday afternoon lethargy
13. wasting Saturdays
14. the wrong kind of song
15. traditional Baptist social theology
16. Family Guy at 10pm
17. being angry or bitter
18. ignorance
19. yellow/red lights




And looking at these two lists, I can reprioritize my life so I can live it more abundantly. Philippians 3:13-14 & Hebrews 12:1

Also, looking at this list - thinking promotes my relationship, whereas feeling detracts... very interesting... from now on I will only think, I will not feel (ha!).

Saturday, September 27, 2008

different pov

There are things I think are right. I have thought long and hard about them and came to a firm belief about them. These decisions have a lot to do with life experiences, important values and my education. I stand by them.

But I live in a world that doesn't have those same thoughts. Perhaps they don't have the same experiences, values or education. Either way, they don't agree with me. They don't even have the same mindset as me. Their point of view isn't even on the same planet as mine.


And I respect them. They are great people. On several other issues that are near and dear to my heart, we are on the same accord. I like having these people in my life.

But it's hard. How do I sit in a room during discussions of these important views, letting them assume I'm with them? How do I let them think their way of thinking is 100% correct when there's obviously another way of thinking? And how do I do this knowing that they won't even get it if I tried? Knowing the discussion would be futile?

is it even worth the breath?
but how do I live with myself having convictions that something is right and not even give a hint of how I feel?

I just hate this feeling.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

life

I'm morbid.
I just am.

Perhaps it was my brother's death 13 years ago, but I've always had a fascination for life and death and all things involved. I can't tell you how much thought I have put into my own funeral.

Today I went to another funeral. This one was for a stranger. I had never met her or seen her before. The most I knew of her was the obituary I read that morning. But she was the mother of one of my students, and our presence this morning meant a lot to that student.

And I was struck by this stranger. This woman who had lived life so abundantly. She was so full of life, even when struck with a tragic disease that eventually took her away. Even during the final stages of cancer, she exclaimed, "God has been so good to me!" The pictures during the opening slide show were full of smiles and laughter; adventure and fun. The words spoken of her were of her leadership, humility, service and grace. She was full of joy and loved to plan. She was an inspiration.

And my morbidity came to mind again, and I thought about how precious life was. But not in the typical "What if I die tomorrow?" sense, but the "What if I die at 46 from cancer?" sense... which is actually a bit different. If I die tomorrow, it's all about how I live today. But thinking about dying at 46 gives me a bigger picture of how I'm planning to live my life abundantly. Is my life an adventure?
Will my slideshow show me smiling, laughing and that I'm full of joy? Am I leaving a legacy for my children? Will I have a lifetime of leadership? As I'm growing, am I focusing on showing God's love through my joy?

John 10:10

Saturday, September 13, 2008

2nd year

August 25, 2007
It was an exhilerating day. The entire day was such an adrenaline rush that it all seems like a blur. The only thing I remember clearly from that day is the overwhelming peace; I was born for this moment. It was the first day of my first year of teaching. Ever since then, even with all the ups and downs and broken hearts, shed tears and shaken fists, late nights and early mornings, meetings, conferences, failed students, failed lessons, legislation torture and reprimands, the entire first year was a privilege. At the core, I loved what I was doing and I was honored to do it. I had never felt such pride and excitement.

August 27, 2008
The day was long and drawn out. I was in a down mood all week. The week before, I had actually contemplated what it would be like to quit. I was wore out and wore down. The excitement and thrill of the first year wore off and the rose-colored glasses were no longer being worn. I was bitter and tired. While my mood has improved from the pre-school year training, I still don't have the same enthusiasm I used to. I don't have the same conviction that this was what I was born to do. I have started looking past the classroom to where my Master's degree could take me. My kids don't seem as sweet, as smart, as awesome. My days don't seem so meaningful, but more exhausting. I can never seem to stay ahead or even caught up. My lessons don't have the same flavor they once had.

I pray that God changes my heart and gives me the same peace I had last year. I was the same since of conviction and calling. I want the same desire and enthusiasm. I know I will never have the same amount of energy I had my first year - it was a rare thing. I will never have a first year again. But I do still want that love for teaching I once had. And as a disclaimer, I don't hate my job. I still enjoy it, but compared to last year, it's nowhere close. It's more exhausting and less rewarding than before and it's so disappointing. What a difference a year makes.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

wait for it...

Oh geez - so much has happened. I apologize, but school really kicked in gear around the time of my last post and it has consumed my life ever since. Then my AC adapter went kaput for a couple weeks, and while I'm used to living without a home computer by now, it's never fun.

So let me just apologize for the delay. I promise I have much to say (rhyming unintented).
And I will get to it soon, but not tonight. If I haven't updated by week's end, email me and remind me of my word. Perhaps Friday, I'll want a break from cleaning the apt and I'll post some of the crazy thoughts that are constantly swirling in my head...

til then - stay classy, San Diego

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Things I enjoy

I haven't given yall much by way of a post lately, so I thought I'd share some things I really enjoy:

1. American Idol Karaoke Revolution video game. I played on PS2 but I'm sure you can find it for other systems too.

2. Veronica Mars on DVD. I LOVE this show, no matter how many times I watch it.

3. Teaching. Being back in my classroom this week reminded me how much I missed it.

4. Being salaried. It is a really great feeling knowing that on weekends, summers, evenings, vacations etc. I am still getting paid like I do when I am at work.

5. My kitty. See earlier post for elaboration, but most recently, she went to the vet and they said she was very healthy. That's my girl!

6. Swimming. Unfortunately, there's a health concern regarding swimming in North Texas and I'm avoiding swimming. To make matters worse, they finally opened up the pool in my back yard and all day and night I hear people enjoying themselves in the pool...

7. Ice cream. Since I can't have swimming, I have to have something to cool me off. I can say more, but do I need to? Everybody loves ice cream.

8. Books. I wish I could read all day every day. Imagine how much smarter I'd be.

9. The Leadership Summit. Every year I regret not promoting this more because I sit and listen to these amazing speakers go right to my heart and soul and while my life is being changed I think of all the people in my life that would sooo love it. It happens every August all over the world.

10. Water. I can drink cold h20 24/7 and still want more. It tastes sooo good and satisfies and I know that sounds hokey, but there's a reason our body needs it. It's good stuff, ya'll :)

Ok I think I'll stop at ten. Nothing crazy new or exciting here, but I hope it serves as sort of an update.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

disappointed

In my work with youth ministry and as a middle school teacher, I am often disappointed in the decisions some of my students choose to make. This seems pretty natural, as we are all fallen people and prone to make mistakes, myself included. It is also natural because adolescents are at a time where they are testing boundaries more than ever. They need to learn for themselves what right and wrong is, even if it means doing the wrong thing every now and then.

I actually understand, and even support that to a degree. What I really struggle with is how to handle those moments when I am disappointed. Do I keep it to myself and just get over it? Do I just say "Oh, those darn teenagers" and roll with the punches? Maybe if it's just a small thing like forgetting their homework or showing up late.

But what about when it's bigger than that - when I can't just shrug it off? What if it's life-altering? Do I speak up? Do I let the students know I don't condone their decision? How do I do that without losing the relationship I have established with them? If I voice my disapproval, they might write me off forever. If it were just my relationship, then fine. However, they might write off all future teachers or youth workers. Do I risk that?

What if it's a decision that can't be taken back? Now they have to live with the consequences of that decision. Is it appropriate to tell them I'm disappointed in them? Do they still need to know? How do I do that without making them feel more guilty?

If I am not speaking up, then am I unintentionally saying that their decision is ok? If I don't stand up against wrong, am I saying that it's right? Is that something I'm ok with doing? Don't they need to know their mistake so they don't repeat it?

How do I handle those moments, the inevitable ones where my students let me down? I can't lower my standards. I can't compromise my sense of right and wrong. I can't condone their behavior. But what can I do?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

107

Yesterday, it was 107 degrees in beautiful Fort Worth.

Kate texts me in the middle of the day to tell me our heat is making national news.
Then she asks me, "Stayin cool?"

It literally made me laugh at loud, because yesterday, during possibly the hottest day of the year in North Texas, I was spending 11 hours at Six Flags with the youth.

I actually had a fun time, and drank plenty of water. I also applied lots of sunscreen and did not get burned at all (unlike Andrew who never listens to my suggestions).

So I survived!!

Oh, the things I do for youth, lol.

[sad ending - we planned on riding the Titan, my favorite ride, after dinner. Naturally, that's when they decided to close it for some reason. boooo]

Saturday, July 26, 2008

back

my baby is back and all is right with the world.
and now i am spending my days hearing what the Lord did in Thailand...
oh and i'll get to see batman again tomorrow.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

hero

SPOILER-ALERT: While I do not intend on discussing specifics about The Dark Knight, please be aware that this post is in direct reference to the movie.

My husband loves super heroes. He appreciates the genre, and our movie collection and book shelves reflect that. His favorite character is Superman, and he likes to wear Superman T-shirts to prove it. It was my opinion that Superman was, in fact, the best of the super heroes. He has so many cool super-powers! To me, the more cool super-powers, the more of a super hero.

But now I take it all back.
Because now, I see that the opposite is true. Spiderman, Superman, The Hulk, X-Men, etc all received their power from something external like an insect bite, or being an alien. They don't choose to have their power. Yes, they have to choose to use it wisely, and that's what differentiates them from the bad guys in their stories.

Batman is altogether different. He doesn't have any super-powers at all. He wasn't born with a supernatural gift, and it wasn't instilled on him through some fluke of nature. He went out and made himself a hero. He believed in this thing called "greater good" and this is his power. I used to think of him as somebody who is merely avenging his parent's death by running around with fancy technology. What a joke, I'd say.

He is clearly something more. He is a true hero.
Because I was not on a strange planet, nor was I born with a mutant gene. I am just an average person who also believes in good. And according to Batman's story, that's all it takes to rid this world of evil (and a little martial arts training and expensive gadgets), and that's something I can root for.

I still like Superman, et al, but they are mere comics to me. Batman is somebody I can believe in, because Batman is somebody I can be. No I don't mean I'm going to run around Gotham City with a cape (we see how well that works out for those who tried in the opening scene). I mean, I am going to choose to live with compassion and integrity. I am not going to let what I'm born with or not born with stop me from being great. I am going to sacrifice what people think of me for the sake of helping others. I am going to believe in something greater than myself. I am not going to let evil reign in this world.

I am going to be a hero to those around me.

Friday, July 18, 2008

what i dont need

I don't mean to continue on about Andrew being gone, because that would make me sound a bit more pathetic than I am... but I'd like to explore a thought I had at work today.

I had mentioned to a coworker something about missing Andrew and how I really wanted to hear from him. My coworker seemed to be in a man-mood (fix the problem without realizing I just wanted a conversation)... so she offered a slew of suggestions and solutions.

She said I needed to learn how to be by myself and enjoy ME time. She said I should not worry about him. She said I need to keep busy and find stuff to do.
And she totally missed the point (also kind of a man thing, no offense).

I can be by myself, just fine, actually. I do it all the time... and by choice too. Which is exactly the point. I don't want my ME time dictacted to me. Then it's not ME time, it's "oh you have nothing better to do so distract yourself with a bubble bath." NOT the same thing as purposefully saying "I am going to set aside time today/this week to just be by myself and do things I enjoy."

I understand using time wisely. I used to always get Saturday mornings to myself - no choice in the matter. And I would use those to the fullest extent in terms of things I enjoy - slept in, watched Sat morning Disney shows that Andrew would cringe at, then would catch up on soapy TV online that, again, Andrew wouldnt dare dream of watching. And it was nice enough. But it's not the same as choosing to have that time. Those days I choose to be alone are more meaningful to me than any Saturday I got to myself.

So it's not that I need to be around people - it's that I don't like being forced to be alone.
And it's not that I'm worried about Andrew - I have full trust and faith in God, him and the leader of the trip. I just like being able to hear from him.

And trust me, I've kept busy. I still went to work. I had my night classes with extensive homework. I had a sleepover with some girls. I still went to church. I went to see Batman at midnight. I basically did all the things I would do anyway. I certainly don't need to use Andrew going to Thailand as an excuse to be busy. But busy doesn't mean I don't want to hear from my husband. Busy doesn't mean I'm necessarily distracted.

It's actually the opposite when I'm busy. Because I live a busy life normally, and I normally live my busy life with Andrew, we are in an established routine that keeps everything going. So when the busy continues without half of my family to fill in the gap, my routine gets altered. It upsets the natural order.

So I don't need to appreciate ME time. I don't need to stop worrying. I don't need to find meaningful things to do. I just want my routine back. I just want a little communication. And really, I just want understanding.
Is that really too much to ask?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

my need

I want to be honest and vulnerable... and in order to do I must decide, however harshly, that I cannot care how people react. I cannot stop to ponder what people might think of me or any judgments thereof. Because I'm about to admit that I am weak and that is hard - really hard - for me to do.

I miss Andrew. tons.
He's only been gone... about 15 hours... and 15 hours is certainly not long. Not even close to the longest we've ever been apart... the record is about 100 hours greater than that.
But, this time will definitely break the record - and then some. All in all, between when I left Andrew at the airport this morning and when I see him at the airport again, it will be over 250 hours. When you say it in hours, it really doesn't seem like that much. But basically it's close to 2 weeks.

and I never wanted to be the wife that needed her husband. I was born independent, and prided myself on that all my life. I always said I didn't need anybody to take care of me; I am perfectly able to take care of myself.
And while that last statement very well may be true - I definitely need people, specifically Andrew.

When you live your daily life in a routine with another person for over 3 years, it's really hard to carry out that routine on your own. Yes, I can put transmission fluid in my car, and clean out the litter box. I can balance a check book and wake myself up in the morning. But the thing is - those are Andrew's jobs and I am used to him doing them.

Not to mention the daily communication that goes on. We communicate so frequently with each other that it is not uncommon for us to text or facebook chat with each other several times a day when we're apart. We send each other emails and call each other when we have questions or reminders. We try to spend lunch and dinner together most days, if possible and usually spend our evenings together.
I can tell you with confidence that I don't "need" this communication; I've certainly gotten along fine without it during the school year. But knowing that I won't have any of it for the next 10 days... yeah that's hard to handle.

And I have this notion that it is not okay to admit that. That I shouldn't miss him or need him so much. And that it is unnatural for us to communicate that much, or spend that much time together. We certainly have lots of friends and we have lives that don't really revolve around each other.
As a matter of fact, I am incredibly busy the next two weeks with work, school, social engagements, etc. My schedule is not changing because Andrew is gone. But, he's usually with me for some of it. Or I can at least text him during something to say hello. And most importantly, at the end of busy crazy days where we don't see or talk to each other, we at least get to sleep in the same bed and know that the other one is safe.

So here I am, admitting my weakness. I need Andrew. I don't just need the ring on my finger or the framed marriage contract. I don't need the tons of pictures I've taken or the gifts he's gotten me. I need him here - right here next to me. or even in the next room, or at the store picking something up. I just need to know he's around and he's safe and I'm safe and taken care of. And most importantly, I need him to come home.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lessons from My Kitty




My last update, while perhaps necessary, was a bit mundane. Just a typical update.
And my readers deserve better than that. Moreover, my new kitty deserves more blog time than a small paragraph. So now, in list fashion (the best there is), here are lessons I have learned from my kitty:



1. Be flexible.
We wanted a dog. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted a dog. That's all I talked about all my life. Everybody knew that about me. I poured my heart into every dog I came across and got excited when I saw pups on TV commercials. I even read several dog books to prepare for the day I would FINALLY get my dog. So when we did finally move into an apartment that allows pets, imagine my surprise when the pet we take home is a kitty. You'll see it's a great decision.

2. Relax.
I have had four days off work (including weekends) with the kitty and those have been lessons in cat life. I remember learning that lions sleep 20 hours a day, and now I see how kittens and lions are related. My kitty will wake up only to reposition herself and fall back asleep. How inspiring. Hours and hours go by, and she is still napping. I am going to try that on my next day off.

3. Explore.
She is, without a doubt, a curious kitten. She will explore every corner of this place, including inside every closet, box and bag we have. Which is quite a lot, considering there are still several boxes throughout the apartment. She is not satisfied with all that she has found; she must find out more. She must keep exploring, keep searching, keep trying to figure things out around here.

4. We need each other.
They say cats are lone creatures; they don't need humans. I beg to differ. The first thing my kitty does when we get home and let her out is run to our feet and "meow" until we pick her up and give her a kiss. If we ever stay out too long, when we return, she cuddles with us for hours. She will follow us around wherever we go. And I can't say just how much I need her. She lights up my life.

5. Be Creative.
My kitty can find a toy out of anything. She can also find a bed out of anything. She doesn't care what something's original purpose is - she will create a new purpose. I insist on not spending money on fancy toys and beds when she's perfectly willing to make a piece of paper a toy and a plastic bag a bed.

6. Play Hard.
I mention that she loves to sleep and cuddle, but she also loves to play. a lot. even when we don't. But that's ok with her, because she can play by herself. She will run and jump and chase and scratch and pounce all to her heart's content. We don't have to worry about overfeeding her because she burns off hundreds of calories every day, even with all that sleeping.

7. Use your strengths.
Our kitten can be sooo dumb. She runs into herself in the mirror and chases her own tail. She likes to run so fast in front of your feet you can't help but step on her. She gets herself in between the couch and the couch cover constantly. But, she can also devise a way to climb up cabinets to get to the kitchen counter by doing it at the corner. She can navigate through the obstacle course of our moving boxes in a nanosecond. She can jump up and down from most places in our house. She's found her intelligence and uses it.

8. Be cute.
Let's face it - she gets away with a lot more than she should. But we can't help but love her because she is absolutely adorable. She has the most beautiful combination of black and white, with subtle stripes that make me think she's part-tiger. She has gorgeous white whiskers and the cutest boot paws. And her eyes are engaging. Even when she does something silly, she's hilariously lovable.

9. Be responsible.
I really thought a kitten would be much less work than a puppy, and in many ways that's very much true. However, they still are a considerable amount of work and require responsibility that I'm quickly learning. I can no longer leave my dishes out when I'm done eating, or leave things laying around the house. I need to check on her food, water, litter box, etc. I need to check her physically for mites, sores, signs of trouble, etc.

10. Love food.
She loves food - all food. She doesn't care if it's mine and not hers. She doesn't care if it's good for her or not. She doesn't even care that she's full on cat food. She will try every attempt to eat whatever food is available to her. I can't say that I blame her.

Found

I can't really say I was hiding, because I really wasn't.
But I didn't think I was ready to be in the public.

I started this particular blog as a way to get myself writing knowing that nobody was reading. It is completely opposite of what I really wanted - which is exactly why I wanted it.
It's good for me to not get what I want... which is to have an audience who affirms me.
Because I need to realize that there should only really be an audience of one. Or I suppose two.

But now I've been found. And I can't feel violated, because I wasn't hiding. I just didn't tell anybody.

It's actually good that I've been found, because in my writing this "secret" blog, I have discovered that it became a place I would run and hide. I could be vulnerable here. I could say things and not worry about being grammatically correct or politically correct. And in being that place, I came to depend on it.

I know I've really only posted a few on this new post, but the idea of it was like a security blanket. We shouldn't need security blankets.

So damned if I do, damned if I don't... welcome to my blog.
I really can't thank you enough for reading :)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

summer, so far

So I have now had 2 weeks of summer, and it's been quite a whirlwind so far.
First, my last week of school was crazy hectic, with field trips every morning, classes in the afternoon, conferences after school and classes at night - all while Andrew was gone at beach camp without me. I literally could make a whole blog about my experiences of that week good and bad (good: field trips, succeeding on my own. bad: crazy stressful, students knowing they should be out, not being at camp)... but I will move on...

The weekend after school got out, we got to hang out with our friend Jacob, whom I love. Then, he left and I went to a "School's Out" party at a coworkers house and came home with the cutest kitten ever. It has been awesome getting to know her, and I have taken 100 pictures of her already.

But we didn't get to spend too much time with her, because we spent 6 days in St. Louis. A great time with family and relaxing mornings. My niece is getting so big and I took a good couple dozen pics of her as well. Life goes on in St. Louis even without us.

I also took a part-time job this summer. I am working for the youth minister as his secretary. I am mostly working on getting the Thailand group ready to go, which makes me feel a lot better about not getting to go myself. They leave in 9 days, so I have my work cut out for me. After they leave, I will work on other summer things like the MS mission trip, Sunday School, Six Flags trips, etc. I actually really like it so far.

I finished the class I mentioned earlier and start a new one this week. It is an incredibly busy summer, but in a good kind of way. I only have about 5 weeks left and I'm hoping to have more breaks like I got this weekend... but we'll see how that happens...

wedding perspective

The way people refer to weddings they attend say a lot about their perspective on weddings. When people refer to weddings from their point of view, it reveals that they think of themselves as center.
I don't necessarily mean that when you refer to your cousin's wedding by saying "My cousin's wedding" you are being selfish. However, when you refer to that wedding as "My fifth wedding this summer," it tells me that you are more concerned with people knowing how many weddings you go to than the fact that you have a cousin who has made a commitment to love.

The way they describe the wedding also reveals their perspective. Follow along in the conversation below:
"How was the wedding?"
"I did not like the color scheme." or "The food was delicious." or "I had to wait a really long time in between the ceremony and reception." or "That was the best cake I ever had."
Did you notice the word "I" a lot in those statements?
Look instead at the following responses:
"How was the wedding?"
"The bride was beautiful." or "You could tell how much they loved each other." or "The father-of-the-bride cried; it was moving." or "Everybody was dancing at the reception."
In the latter conversation, you can tell that there were actually other people at the wedding other than the person talking. That person also refers to the bride and groom!

Pictures tell the perspective. I admit, at the last wedding I went to, I took two pictures of the bride and one of the groom. The rest were of the other guests I was visiting with. It's a shame to show pictures of weddings attended and there is not a single one of either bride or groom. I understand the thought process "I don't want to intrude; they're awfully busy." or even, "why waste the picture when you know lighting is bad?" However, the cake doesn't go anywhere for the first half of the reception - was there a picture of that? or other decorations? Can people tell there was a wedding other than the fact that some people in the picture have matching dresses or tuxes? Does it look any different from a prom except the fact that we're too old to go to one?

I must say these thoughts come out too much of what I've seen from my peers and even myself. I have been known to count off my weddings to people. I also have tossed in a few wedding pics into a general "Summer" album as if it were just something else I did one season. I have been known to describe weddings in terms of what I got out of it. I have judged them based on my needs. That doesn't make it right. It does not mean I do not get bothered when I see people refer to one of their good friends' weddings as "My second one this summer" instead of "My friend's wedding". Currently in my facebook photo queue, I literally have both of those headings back to back and I can tell you which person has a healthier perspective on friendship, weddings, and life.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

BFF

I watched 27 Dresses the other night and I was struck by how jealous I was. The storyline is that the main character, Jane, is so selfless that she lives her whole life for other people and forgets to live her own. It is supposed to be this sad "feel sorry for her" kind of story as she has had to be a bridesmaid 27 times.

But I didn't feel sorry for her at all. I wanted to be her. There are 27 people that thought she was a good enough friend they wanted her in their weddings - the most important day in their lives. There are 27 people who honored her by choosing her to stand beside them. The way they painted this character is one that selflessly helped out in any way she can, going above and beyond.

I have been a bridesmaid once. Just once. Sure, I am a few years younger than her, and I will probably be in at least 3 more (2 sisters and another friend). But that's it. I suppose 4 is enough. I should be happy that there are at least 4 people in my life who want to bestow their highest honor on me. But I can't help but wonder why there haven't been more.

My friend Darcie has been in at least a dozen already, including my own. My husband has been in at least half a dozen. What is it about their personality, their friendships, their relationships that makes them more wedding party worthy than I am?


To me, this is more than a discussion about wearing a dress and standing on stage next to somebody. It's about friendships. Why is Darcie considered a better friend than I am? Is it because she is? Is she more sacrificial? Is she less self-involved? Is she less busy? Does she laugh at more jokes? Listen to more stories? Around more often? Why do more people consider her BFF worthy?

And more importantly, why do people consider me less BFF worthy? Is there something fundamentally wrong with the way I approach friendships? Sure, I have a couple BFFs - they were the ones standing next to me at my wedding. But do they have me? Would they choose me? Am I the one they go to when something good or bad happens in their lives? Do they tell me their secrets? Do they think about me randomly and wonder how my week is? Do they have pictures of me around? Do they cherish our memories? Do they make effort to contact me during the week just to chat? Am I on the list of people they'd call first when they get engaged, pregnant, a new job, etc? Am I #1 in their lives?

Perhaps I'm thinking too much about it and should be happy with the friendships that I have, and the level that they are. But a part of me wishes I could be a better friend; I could be a closer friend. Am I choosing wildly popular people who consider me a great friend, but have several great friends above me? Am I not allowing myself to get vulnerable with people, thus keeping them at a distance? Am I too downright selfish to be BFF material? Am I too needy and push people away?

Besides the one time I have been a bridesmaid, there was another time I was asked. I was thrilled. This would have been my first time as a bridesmaid, and I was honored that somebody chose me. But as a few months went by, apparently I wasn't a good enough friend and the bride told me I was no longer worthy to stand next to her at her wedding. I have never forgotten this moment. I was not good enough.

There have been other friends that I thought could have picked me, but they did not. I can't say I wasn't disappointed. I understand the decisions that go into a choice like this, that have less to do with friendship levels than one would think. But I can't help but look at other indicators of friendship, like phone calls, emails, visits, sharing secrets and being involved in their lives, and see that I am not their BFFs. Am I anybody's?

If there are only 2 people that jump up and say "Yes! Yes! You are mine!" should I be content with that? Or should I want 25 more to jump up and say "Mine too!!"? Is 27 a bit excessive anyway? I mean, after all, the term Best Friend Forever implies that there is only one. "This is THE best." Should I concentrate on the two that jump up? Should I make sure I am the best friend I possibly can be to them? Or should I figure out why there aren't tons more people willing to step up and say the same?

Friday, June 13, 2008

I am still teaching for a whole nother week. A freakin week.

The most ironic thing: my first day of summer is the actual first day of summer.
That is unreal.

and you have no idea how it kills me inside.

Monday, June 2, 2008

How to... Survive College

I dedicate this to my seniors graduating this week.

1. Make new friends.
You will always love your childhood/high school friends, but there's always room for more. Don't just stop with the first people you meet, but keep meeting friends everywhere you go. At your dorm, in your classes, at your job, your friends' friends, at bible study, at meetings, during intramurals. You cannot have too many friends, and you need to explore all the different types of personalities that are available to you at this unique stage of life.

2. But keep the old.
Keep in touch (more than just random facebook messages) with your old friends. They will hold you accountable to who you used to be, who you used to want to be, and who you can be. At this stage in your life, nobody knows you better. Whether you like everything about your past or not, you cannot complete divorce your present from your past because you will lose a part of yourself. See them when you come in town, write them letters, call them and talk for hours.

3. Explore your options.
Never again will experimentation with your life be so cheap. Take any class you can, join any club you want to. Don't be afraid to try new things. You will absolutely regret it later if you play it safe. Try out for the play. Take Philosophy of TV. Write an article for the newspaper. Volunteer to build a house. Sign up for the mission trip. Your life calling can be hidden and you can miss it sticking to what you know.

4. Start saving.
It is ridiculously easy to blow off money. I went through thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it except the pounds I gained from the midnight runs to McDonald's. You can build yourself a future by putting aside even a little of whatever money you get. While hundreds of trips to Walmart may seem like the only way to survive college (especially in a small town), remember everything will be there later when you actually need it.

5. Carpool
Besides the obvious advantage of saving gas money, you will bond like crazy in a car. Whether it's just to class, around town, to a neighboring town, or home for the holidays - sharing rides is the selfless, socially acceptable thing to do. Make sure you are not always the driver (or never for that matter). If you don't know of anybody going where you're going, just ask. This is one of the best ways to make new friends, and forever memories.

6. Share
I mean this in every way possible. Share food, shoes, videos, ideas, thoughts, opinions, friends, rides, resources, duties, emotions, laughs, memories, pictures, jeans, phone numbers, recipes, classes, books, life stories, etc. Besides the economic advantage of participating in a communal relationship with those around you, and the opportunities to try new things, it puts you in great social standing. Open up to those around you, so they can get to know you. You will never be able to communicate effectively if you do not have a basic understanding of who the other person is. But please keep in mind, there is such a thing as over-share. Don't be one of those people.

7. Take pictures
In this digital world, this really goes unsaid, but let this serve as a reminder of the importance of capturing memories. Don't depend on others to take the pictures; that doesn't always work. Get a small camera and take it wherever you go. Don't forget that you have it. Take pictures of random things, exciting things, boring things, everyday things, ugly things, beautiful things. Stick your head out your dorm window with your roommate and take that picture (still one of my favorites).

8. Play
Ride bikes, swing, play tag, night tag, capture the flag, intramural volleyball, kickball, etc. Not only does the physical activity release endorphins, which I describe to my sixth graders as "happy bubbles of fun", that fight off depression, anger and stress, but feeling like a kid again is absolutely imperative at the stage of your life when you are most resistant to adulthood. Let's not forget the social benefits of acting foolish with a group of people.

9. Find deals
Locate the dollar movie theatre and never go anywhere else (and bring in your own candy). Figure out if there's a Mocha Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc. Where can you use your student discount (ask EVERYwhere)? Split meals, drink water at restaurants, just go out for dessert instead of a whole meal. Clip coupons. Find the used book store, the goodwill store, the closest outlet. Be thrifty, be cheap, be resourceful.

10. Go to class
Let me state the overstated and obvious: you paid for it. The professor's most important lesson can be the one that you miss. You can guarantee he won't repeat it. There is no make-up policy, no alternative assignments, or "absence" folders. Just go. It's why you are at college - to learn. This is the greatest opportunity you are given - the opportunity to be educated. Take it all in, even the gen ed crap, because you will be a better human being. Take my word for it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

evaluated

They say not to let a formal assessment define us. After all, it's just one test, one evaluation, one person's opinion. It's not an accurate reflection of our true selves.

This is a very good thought, and I believe it to be true. I teach it to my students.

You see, this week, they get their state test scores back this week. This is a much bigger deal here than any other state I've ever heard. We told them not to let the test define them. We told them to just do the best they can and when they get their scores back to remind them it's not a big deal.

But it is a big deal, and in the state of Texas, it does define them. They are not allowed to pass on to the next level of schooling without passing these exams. They can move on within the school (6th to 7th), but then they have to give up their electives in order to "double-dip" in the subjects they failed (if they fail math, they take two classes of math next year).

So I am thinking about the students that failed and how we have to tell them. And the lie we will tell them about it not being a big deal. Telling a kid he can't be in band next year because he FAILED a test is not something I want to be a part of.

Suddenly the adage "can't let others' define us" seems foolish.

Meanwhile, I myself am preparing to be evaluated. One 45-min observation of me teaching my kids (in May, nonetheless) is somehow supposed to represent me as a teacher. And I am trying to not let it be a big deal - I know I'm a good teacher. I recently got awarded for being a great teacher, in my first year.

But when you tell me my certification depends on this one observation, I can't help but feel it is a biiiig deal. A big freakin deal.

And when the evaluator says if you don't have what she's looking for, she'll mark you down... it makes you freak out.

I am currently freaking out.

And I refuse to believe that this isn't a big deal. My heart won't let me believe that.
But then again, ask me again next week and I'll probably tell you "Oh, it's nothing. I can't be stressed out about one small thing..."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Oh, brother...

You don't have to get a Psychology degree to figure out that daughters are scarred for life when they lose their fathers. It has become common knowledge that women will seek out men who remind them of their fathers and they always have a need to fill the void their father left. John Mayer even wrote a song about it recently that explains the whole situation in case anybody was not aware.

But I'm learning recently that this phenomenon is not just about girls and their daddies. It can also be applied to brothers.

You see, over 12 years ago, I lost my brother. He was weeks shy of 18, and I had just turned 12. We had a typical sibling relationship - teasing, bullying, fights, etc. I can remember countless times of him sitting on me, telling on me, and yelling at me.

But I also remember him teaching me poker, baseball, algebra, good music, funny jokes, etc. I remember us sleeping in the same room on Christmas Eve and sharing gifts with each other in the morning. I remember going to his football games and him going to my softball games. We laughed at the same movies. And he always watched out for me.

When he died, he was a Senior in high school. He was really popular and had tons of friends. One of them even had lived with us for a period of time. And a month after my brother died, this friend of his took me trick-or-treating. That winter, another friend took me skiing and taught me how. Other friends of his would just randomly stop by to see how we were doing and hang out with me. I'd still go to all the football games, and eventually became the team manager. The guys on the team had such great respect for my brother that they had adopted me as their sister.

So now, instead of losing a brother, I had actually gained tons of them. Over the next few years, I saw this pattern emerge. Eventually, my brother's friends moved away and I had other guys fill the void. I became friends with my male neighbors and cousins, who relentlessly teased me but nonetheless supported me and watched out for me.

Growing up through high school and college, it seemed the pattern continued. I constantly had guy friends that I could laugh and fight with. I found myself giving them sisterly advice and taking brotherly advice. I expect them to always be there for me, because I cannot stand to have the void. Even today, there are certain guys I instantly connect with and in my head we are siblings.

I don't think the brother void is as scarring as the father void, but it is nonetheless a reality I discovered. It effects the way I relate to males, and always will. To me, it explains why I have collected a series of guy friends over the years that I would absolutely do anything for. It explains why I can't just have female friends, and why my male friends fill specific roles in my life.

And it explains why I grieved the way I did, because mostly, I just miss having a brother for life. Real brothers don't lose contact after they leave for college. Real brothers don't forget me when they get girlfriends or life gets busy. They can't. They are obligated by blood to love you forever. My replacement brothers are not. I constantly have to struggle to keep them, mourn their loss when I can't and then work so hard to find another one. It's psychologically exhausting.

This is my reality and discovering it has opened my eyes to see so much. It has enabled me to realize when I am being too clingy and when I am expecting too much. It has allowed me to see the void for what it is and not let it control my life. So here's to brothers and all they offer.

keeping my job

My job is very vulnerable this year. As a first year teacher, I am only given a temporary certificate. And under that certificate, I have to jump through a variety of hoops in order to be recommended for a full certificate.

I have jumped through most of those hoops already. I took 3 state exams, took 18 credit hours of graduate classes, turned in piles of paperwork and had numerous observations by supervisors, mentor teachers, and both principals.

But there is one thing left. One major thing. In Texas, it's referred to as the PDAS and basically it is the Year-End Evaluation. My Asst Principal comes in to observe me teaching for a total of 45 mins. There are 8 areas she's observing, and this evaluation goes in my permanent file. At this point, it is literally the only thing standing in my way of getting a full teaching certificate.

She came in for 20 minutes today to start the observation. She wasn't getting what she needed, so she said she will come for the remaining 25 minutes tomorrow... I am literally in the midst of being evaluated, which we already establish is imperative for my career.

So in the midst of being evaluated, I thought it might be a good thing to go out to dinner with her and another teacher. I could get some good quality-time in and maybe talk about my class project and make her laugh and in general suck-up. It wasn't planned. She and the other teacher saw my car still at school at 6:30 tonight and invited me. But I went, thinking it would be a good opportunity.

They arrive first and they are talking about her recent break-up with a guy. She is explaining the situation as the other teacher is trying to give her advice. They ask me for advice, and in my best Teresa voice say "Have you ever read the book, He's Just Not That Into You?"

And as soon as I said it, I knew it was a mistake. Especially after she leaned over to the other teacher and said something about my PDAS evaluation and laughed.

Yikes.

I was able to exlain to her the reason I recommended the book was because it was mostly about women not wasting their time on men that don't deserve them. And well a few jokes and stories later, I think I was able to recover. But oh man, did I put my job on the line tonight, lol.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

heart

tonight, the music minister of our youth group said something that surprised me.
all this time, i thought his passion and heart was music ministry. he seems to love his position, and he's always using his gift of music in other venues. i honestly thought this was his true calling...
but he made a statement about all people being ok at some things, good at others, and great at a few. and he thought he was just ok at music, and he could abandon it in pursuit of his true calling, for something he's great at - apparently public speaking.

and i had no idea he even liked to speak publicly, except for the random speeches he gives in the middle of songs... i just thought it was because he's just one of those people who liked to hear himself speak... ha.

and he said, one day he'll submit to the calling of speaking, it's inevitable. and i just wondered what stopped him.
could it be he's not ready? could it be he's still too afraid? why isn't he pursuing that? why isn't he practicing?

so i'm sitting here thinking about my passion, what i long to do.
and it's not really what people would think it is, either.
people, even my closest friends and husband, would think it's teaching - whether that's publicly and professionally, or through youth ministry. and well that's mostly true. i would tell people my #1 calling is youth ministry, and #2 is teaching. but i just may be lying to myself.

because i'm good at those things. people accept me as good at those things. there's no longer fear for me in pursuing those things.


i want to write. with all that is within me, i want to write. i want to write so clearly and effectively that it means something to all who read it. i want to share my heart in such a way it changes others'.

there are so many stories inside me. so many thoughts. and i just can't seem to get them out.
i just can't seem to be happy with what i write.
do you know how many drafts i have on blogspot? on facebook? on xanga?

even with a private audience. and it's not the subject i'm ashamed of. but when i get passionate about something, i don't know how to write about it that makes sense. and i'm afraid of not being understood. so i just leave the draft there. never to be touched again. perhaps to be deleted later out of shame.

andrew asked me the other day to list two jobs i could have right now (we were asking each other random questions)... and there were several i could think of that i would want to have but never could (acting, radio DJ, dog walker). but i realized i could be a writer now if i wanted. not necessarily rolling in the dough, but if i truly tried, i could have some things published.

and yet, i'm sitting here on blogspot... wondering why i never have, wondering if i ever will...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

quirky

I have many quirks. We all do, I'm sure.
But I wanted to share one that I find particularly amusing.

I love chapstick. obsessively. I need it. It's not a want; it's a NEED.
So much so, that in my equally obsessive need to be prepared for anything, I make sure to always have chapstick around me.

Currently, I have chapstick located in the following places:
*bedroom nightstand
*bathroom toiletry tray
*living room remote basket
*purse side pocket
*school bag side pocket
*school desk drawer
*husband's right pocket

and from time to time, my office and my car...

another intriguing tidbit about this obsession is that they all just so happen to be different flavors.
in order:
-cherry
-strawberry
-grape and blueberry
-fruit craze
-mint
-regular
-peppermint

i also have many lip glosses around just in case I can't find chapstick....

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I had almost forgotten about blogspot...
sorry.

and there's nothing in particular to say.

but it's amazing how disconnect one can feel from the world when they don't have internet in their home.
actually, technically i have internet in my home, but no working computer to access that internet...

however, i refuse to let that get me down - if andrew's car situation has taught me anything, it's that life can work around a little inconvenience....
by the way, andrew's car is in working (not good, but working) condition again, so that's a big praise... i couldn't deal with no computer and carpooling around town at the same time (literally, cause it just wouldn't work)

and we are looking at new apartments too, so
::cue "The Jeffersons'" theme song::

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spring Break

This year, I had 17 days in a row off work for Spring Break. It was wonderful, and now that I've been back at work for a week, I can say I truly miss it. This week was hard to get through, ha.

I wasn't really looking forward to it, though, because I had nothing to do. Two whole weeks, three weekends off and not a single plan. No out of town trips or anything...

but despite that, I ended up having the best Spring Break ever simply by making the most of it. The following is a list of things I did:

Spring Break 08

1. spent one-on-one time with 5 girls from the youth group
2. severely gutted out 2 closets in my classroom that hadnt been touched since august
3. priced my new birth control at 4 pharmacies and filled the prescription at CVS
4. completely rearranged my living room
5. completely cleaned the said living room, kitchen and bathroom
6. planned and threw a st. pats party (included cooking corned beef and cabbage!)
7. took care of a random family situation that would take too long to explain
8. put up all new pics on the fridge
9. discussed a midterm with fellow students and turned it in
10. attended a sunday school teacher's meeting
11. taught dylan and ian how to play rummy
12. talked to a coworker on the phone for an hour and a half
13. is watching The O.C. season 1 an accomplishment?
14. what about season 6 of Gilmore Girls?
15. cooked a nice steak dinner for Rachel
16. had a girls' movie night with my adult friends
17. made a list of 100 things i'm grateful for
18. read through 4 years of old xanga entries...
19. tagged a bunch of pics on facebook that i added 9 months ago
20. participated as a teacher sponsor in a mathlete competition
21. did over 10 loads of laundry
22. completely cleaned and reorganized my bedroom
23. watched Season 1 of Arrested Development
24. watched tons of movies, new and old
25. thoroughly caught up with family
26. bought my niece a spring dress
27. painted my toenails green
28. went to IKEA for the first time
29. assembled IKEA chair and rearranged living room, again
30. slept in and in general, relaxed a lot
31. went on a Target spree
32. created lesson plans for 2 weeks
33. created new seating charts
34. spent Easter with Ft. Worth family
35. hosted shindig at apt
36. did homework assignment for Master’s class
37. bought new sandals
38. got rid of a lot of clothes/shoes from my closet
39. made a cake
40. watched a little bit of Idol and became a David Cook fan

I'm quite proud of myself, which is why I'm posting this.
Imagine what kind of list I'll make this summer...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

connected

recently, ive been thinking about friends and friendships, specifically my own, and my history.

it could be because i dont really have close friends really here in ft. worth, and i'm losing touch with some of my closest friends...

but i was starting to question some things...

and i came to the following conclusions:
1. i do indeed have a good set of quality BFFs that go above and beyond the call of duty.
2. even moreso, i do have a plethora of good friends that even when going months without speaking to each other through any format, still really care about my life and are very interested in how i am doing. they still cherish any memories we have had, and will pray for me at the drop of a hat.
3. i should consider it a good thing that i even have several acquaintances, with the help of social networking sites have been able to keep in touch. sometimes this makes me feel bad, because i have hundreds of friends and yet go weeks without anybody leaving their mark on my sites... but i realize that these people still are interested in my life, even in the smallest bit. even the occasional page-view allows them to see what im doing with myself and keep updated. if they didnt care at all, they would never have added me. i say this, because i know its true about how i feel about them. i may not comment, but i do read the bulletins, look through pictures, read "about me" and smile knowing i'm able to keep in touch with somebody from my past...

and that renewed my general self-esteem as well as my self-efficacy. sometimes when im feeling lonely, i tend to cling to a few people in order to get validation... but knowing that people out there love me, even just the tiniest bit, is all i need to believe in myself. by believing in myself, im allowing myself to have healthier relationships with the friends i do have. its a nice cycle (when its working, cause when its not, it works backwards... not good).

thanks ya'll

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

growth

i've been reflecting a lot lately (when am i not?)
and i've noticed something about my peers.

they've either grown up a lot, just starting the process or not at all.

by the time you hit 24, it becomes glaringly obvious which state you are in.
and i dont mean to say that those who are in the "grown up" category are completely mature, or aren't constantly working on themselves... on the contrary, the reason people are in this group is because they are always aware of areas in their life that need improvement and work towards that. that's what makes a person mature in the first place.

and the category that you are in today has little to do with how mature you were in high school. i've noticed several of my peers who were considered mature in high school sort of stabilize there, and have not only made no positive changes since then, but actually several negative ones. in addition, ive seen several peers who i'd never hesitate to call immature in high school realize upon entering college or the real world that something has to change, and got their act together to become some of the most mature people i know.

and like always, there's a middle ground here. for you see, some people in the latter category may have made it to this point in life before realizing their need to grow and change, and are just now taking the necessary first steps to accomplish this maturity.

and like i said, its very easy to spot which category a person fits under at this age... especially once you realize their age. i recently informed somebody that i was the same age as another youth worker (who is somewhere in the middle of "not mature at all" and "starting to grow") and she did not believe me - she thought he was at least 3 years younger than his age, and that i was a few years older than my age.

i dont mean this to sound like an "im awesome and mature, and everyone should wish they were as adult as me" post, cause honestly thats not true at all... remember the part about us always growing, always trying to improve, seeing our flaws and working on them?.... yeah i definitely am there. "not that ive already obtained it...." you know the rest.

this is merely an observation. i was most intrigued by the fact that present maturity levels did not necessarily corresspond with high school levels...

thoughts?

::edit:: upon reflecting more, i wanted to clarify my definition of maturity. as a continuation of the "not already obtained it" thought, i don't think of maturity in the scientific sense, where a fully mature animal is completely grown. but in psychological sense, where i am in the right stage where i belong. think skinner, for instance. it's comparable to an IQ test, which is calculated by taking your intelligence age and dividing it by your real age...
because i would never presume to say that im completely adult, im fully mature. but if im acting like a 24 year old (or somewhere near that) as a 24 year old, then im doing pretty good.
which is why is perfectly possible for somebody to act like a 20 year old at 16 and be considered mature, but for that same person to not have grown at all and acts like a 20 year old at 24 and cause concern.

i would never expect my 12 year old students to act like my seniors. and id never expect my seniors to act like twentysomethings. and i hope nobody expects me as a twentysomething to act like a middle-aged adult.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

grateful

Just for my own sake, because it's good to do this often...

Things I am currently grateful for (in no particular order):
1. good music
2. a good concealer
3. internet
4. cold water
5. Target
6. TV on DVD
7. change
8. Panera in Ft. Worth
9. my cell phone
10. youth ministry
11. my job
12. my sense of smell
13. toe nail polish
14. tax returns
15. grace
16. Nelly the Neon
17. Dano the Nano
18. kleenex
19. a steady paycheck
20. my education
21. my husband
22. sleep
23. nice weather
24. Facebook
25. Gmail
26. Faith
27. Spring Break
28. flip flops
29. sunglasses
30. forgiveness
31. cute bags/purses
32. my niece
33. St. Louis Cardinals
34. coupons
35. gift cards
36. college
37. Texas
38. my health
39. God's strength
40. rollover minutes
41. my church body
42. contacts
43. my Flex Benefits card
44. the campus clinic
45. holidays
46. puzzles
47. blankets
48. socks
49. space heaters
50. lotion
51. text messaging
52. a nice breeze
53. color coding
54. encouragement
55. organization
56. decorating
57. Old Navy
58. Albertsons
59. ice cream
60. bread
61. Scripture
62. Salvation
63. digital cameras
64. memories
65. awards
66. jewelry
67. St. Louis
68. my library
69. my stuffed animals
70. my complexion
71. sweatpants
72. blue jeans
73. frequent flier miles
74. my youth
75. past experiences
76. my professor
77. my coworkers
78. candy
79. steak
80. french fries
81. friends (in general)
82. Kate
83. Darcie
84. Shannon
85. Rachel
86. family (in general)
87. my parents
88. my sister
89. my seniors, and other youth
90. Myspace
91. Xanga
92. Blogspot
93. my boss
94. getting packages in the mail
95. people adopting us as family
96. growth
97. conviction
98. movies
99. RedBox $1 rentals
100. downtown Ft. Worth

Wow, that was a lot easier than I expected. I was only going to name like 10, but they just kept coming... try it, you'll see...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

young

Since quitting my last job, I naturally have had new life restored to me... and with that, apparently the secret of youth as well.
Because at least a half a dozen times since then, I have actually been mistaken for a teenager.

The security people at the airport... a teenage boy who hit on me... another teacher who asked me where my hall pass was...

Today was just another story to add on:
I was a middle school math competition today and saw a fellow teacher friend of mine, who is the exact same age. I was talking to him when a couple of his students asked him if I was his daughter.
So now, instead of looking like a 24-year-old, I look like a 24-year-old's kid.

Crazy!! And I know that when I'm older, I'll love looking younger... but really, I've been married for almost 3 years now, and out of high school for almost 6 years, and am getting mistaken on a regular basis for a kid...
I'm thinking it's time to start auditioning for teenage roles in TV shows/movies.

Monday, February 18, 2008

stories and questions

Let me tell you a story of a (not at all) simpler time.
The year was 2001 and I was a senior in high school. My heart was broken that spring, and by fall, I was ready to move on to bigger, brighter things. A young man had entered my circle of friends, and we instantly bonded. Before I knew it, we were together all the time. We rode to school together every day. We spent all our free time together. I would go to his hockey games. He would come to my rehearsals and shows. We talked to each other every night, even though we would spend hours together during the day. We bonded over common likes and interests. He listened to stories of my heartache. I was there for him when his dog was run over. We laughed all the time. He would take me on dates, and I would dress up for him. We would spend evenings just laying in his bed, holding each other and sharing our lives with each other.
Our friends said we were dating, but we never called it that. I wouldn't even admit I liked him, even though it was true from day one. Admitting it could risk ending it, and I didn't want that. It was the best thing to happen to me in a long time, and I liked it just the way it was.

But one day as we were sharing our lives with each other, he told me about some friends trying to hook him up with this other girl, and how he was interested. He thought he might like her.

?? What ?? How is that possible? Aren't we "together"? I never cared about a title, cause I never felt threatened. But now suddenly, it felt like I had to take a stand for this relationship or it might be gone forever. I was faced head on with my feelings for him. But I was mostly shocked that clearly he didn't feel the same way. Was he just saying that to making me jealous? There's only one way to find out. I finally had to admit my feelings and get it out there.

So out it came. Everything. I painted the picture of our friendship and how we were practically dating, and how it broke my heart to hear his attraction for this other girl. How we were perfect together and how I didn't want to lose him. How I pretty much was in love with him, and wanted him desperately to feel the same way.

But he didn't. He didn't see it that way at all. He saw it as just a friendship. He said I was "like a sister" to him. Gross. I had never felt so rejected. So hurt. So confused. So lonely.

And our friendship ended. right then and there. I was hurt and looking at him hurt me more. He started dating her. And since she was also in our circle (although not a particular friend of mine), he brought her to the same places he used to go with me. I couldn't speak to him. I couldn't be near them. I would see him and literally turn and go the other direction. My heart ached.


But with time, the pain lessened. And then I went off to college and met Andrew that first day. Now, in face of my real true love, I couldn't stand to have bitterness for my past. I knew I couldn't move on to my future until I had closure on my past. I needed to seek forgiveness and get my heart ready for what was in store.
So I emailed him and told him how horrible I felt for dropping him out of my life for 8 months. How I missed his friendship and was a royal witch to him. I sought forgiveness and closure. healing.
and I got it. He not only forgave me, but admitted where he was at fault, and how it broke his heart to lose me and how he is sorry things turned out the way they did. He missed my friendship too. and so we became friends again.
we didn't cuddle or go on dates, but we shared our lives with each other. we kept in touch through all the years, and remained close. I got to tell him all about Andrew and our future. He would keep me posted on his girlfriend (the same one), and we had a happy ending.

Last year, he called me to tell me he was going to propose to said girlfriend, and I was genuinely happy for him that he was finally was going to get to marry his high school sweetheart. And I was honored that he called me beforehand. So I told him that I would be at his wedding, no matter what. But the invitation came the same week that our car broke down and I was in tears that my life plans were falling through because of finances and a plane ticket home for a wedding seemed out of the question. But I don't break promises, and so I forked out the money and bought the ticket. Then, I got two ear infections the week of the wedding and flying seemed out of the question. But, the doctor gave me permission to fly. So I boarded the plane and went to St. Louis, for less than 24 hours....

to see the man who broke my heart marry the girl he broke it for

but in the months ahead of time, with the financial woes and logical constraints of such a trip made me question the whole thing, and I ended up retelling this story to myself and others over and over. Cause, well, it makes a great story. You just read it - it's pretty fascinating. And I love telling stories. I love adding details for dramatic effect. But in telling it over and over again, it made me wonder if I am over it. I mean, I definitely moved on, and clearly we both made better choices. But is it ok that when I tell the story I still feel the initial pangs of heartache?
Is moving on forgetting that I was once hurt? is being "over it" equivalent to "never hurt"? Cause it's hard to deny that my heart was broken. And when I tell the story, I like to tell that part because it's moving. My heart isn't still broken, but I identify with my old self and it's like I feel it again. I remember how I felt, and I would never repeat it again, even for the sake of our current friendship. He was supposed to be what got me over my heartache, not caused more.

and is it okay that I purposefully looked the best I could when I went to their wedding? Is it okay that I still wondered what he saw in her that he didn't see in me? am i supposed to stop asking those questions at some point? is it okay that i still wonder about the "what if"? I mean, I wouldn't want it to interfere with my marriage in any way, but if I could alter the past without effecting the ultimate outcome, is it okay to want that? or is that an impossible question to even ask?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

improving

things i have been working on recently:

1. being a better teacher - there are things i excel at when it comes to teaching; i have a natural gift for those things, i suppose. but the rest i'm really bad at - and i need to get better. my students deserve more from me. every week in class, i am faced with yet another thing i am depriving my students of...

2. getting to bed at a decent hour - i used to try to go to bed between 10 and 11, and now im lucky if it's before midnight. but my mornings are getting earlier and earlier, and the sleep deprivation is literally making me sick.

3. guitar hero - i did well in easy and medium, but keep failing songs in hard, and i just cant get past it. i know if i practice more, i can get it... but often times i quit things im not good at because well i really like being good at everything i do, lol

4. being nicer to those i love - i was watching friends earlier today and saw one character totally mock another and make light of something that the other was really sensitive about - and i realize it may make good tv, but they never show you how much that hurts the other person.

5. not meddling - i like to be right, i like to be in control, i like to be involved. one day, i want someone to stand up at their wedding and say "Thanks Teresa for getting us together." and thats totally selfish and stupid and i have to just be happy there even is a wedding... or a relationship, for that matter.

6. my attitude - when things suck, i think everyone should know so they feel sorry for me. its very immature. and it totally ruins my witness to the fact that God is good, and He is in control. I should not forget that - or let others.

7. my use of time - i'm crazy busy - too much so. i have no free time anymore. today is kind of a fluke (one i'm taking full advantage of). and i cant blame life. i can only blame my own time-management skills. i need to be doing more of some things and less of other things.

8. my spiritual walk - it's decent. much better than this time last year, but I know I can be better, stronger, wiser. i do not give God the time in my life He deserves. I breeze through my quiet times like it's something to check off my list. I only pray for my sake.

9. my money management - this is an understatement. yes, andrew and i miraculously are paying off grad school for both of us as we go, but i still think we should be in better financial shape than we currently are. we need to be more disciplined.

10. my cheerleading abilities - yeah, i am now officially the cheerleading sponsor at my school. ha, i think it's a joke too (apparently so do some of my students)... so i really need to figure out what im doing and quick. yikes.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

I don't want to continue to talk about this negative time in my life, because it gets old. But I just wanted you to know that I will not be defeated. I will not act defeated.
I have hope and a future... and I will not let life circumstances hold me back any longer.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

contrite

every now and then i let life really get to me.
even though i know better and a good night's sleep is often the best cure, i let it happen.


and i dont quite know why.


earlier tonight i felt tears coming on, and i didnt even bother stopping them (like i normally adamently try to do)... i guess b/c i wanted to feel something. i wanted to acknowledge the power of the tears. eventually, i did cry - and you know how it is with tears, they dont stop. and you cant easily recover from it; your face reflects it no matter how hard you fake the smile. i just wondered to myself why i didnt stop the tears.


thats the manifestation of my emotional state right now. i know later ill regret letting my emotions out like this, but gosh darn it, i dont want to hold it in anymore. it's a lie to myself and others. i want to tell you how i feel. even though, in the morning, or whenever my heart heals, i'll look back at this post and just roll my eyes at how near-sighted and negative it all is.


but yeah, im angry, confused, disappointed, upset, saddened, annoyed and hopeless.

i dont get it. i dont understand. why? i dont need the ultimate why... just a small glimpse to hold me over. just something to make sense of it all. i dont need the big picture (although it would be nice), just an example of what i'm supposed to look for... an indication other than my faith that things truly are better this way.


and im humbled. and not in the "wow, people think im great. and its all God" way that is actually a good thing. im humbled by realizing that ::gasp:: maybe people DON'T think i'm great. maybe people don't need me as much as i thought. that i may have made mistakes, i may have been wrong.
and that's the most confusing part.


i dont have a problem that needs to be solved. i dont even have a specific grievance to bear. i just have a broken heart, a contrite spirit and a perplexed mind.


so what im saying is pray for me.
im having a pretty crappy life right now.


i suppose i shouldnt be too surprised by it, since this happens just about every January, for multiple reasons... i just wish i had the money to get some endorphins in the form of a fake bake.
but is that really the solution for my problems?? or is it my faith that i need to work on...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

stirred, not shaken

im not going to try to figure out who caused it, cause i wont presume to blame God for something Satan did, or even give Satan credit for something God did on purpose...

but i had a plan. an idea. a faith in something happening.
a resolution, for crying out loud.

i want to move out. sooo bad. in our apt today, we actually had a mouse crawling around in our pantry, up where we keep the food. and then later, we found a texas-sized cockroach crawling on top of our kitchen table. yeah, ok i dont have to paint much more of a picture of why i want to move out of this shoebox (im seriously tempted to compare the measurements to my classroom, cause i honestly think my classroom is bigger).

so yeah, thats the plan. move out. we even had days set aside to visit some of the complexes we saw online. and im thinking "finally, we're able to accomplish this financial goal ive had forever"
and then andrew's car goes kaput. stops working. estimated cost about the same as the car itself. the old piece of junk car.

and my perfect plan now has a huge kink in it. and the first thought of andrews mouth is that we really cant afford an apt now. we have to postpone the dream ive postponed for too long.

at first, i started to believe it. and well it very well could be true. i dont know.

but this is what i do know - that God will not let us down. That God will provide. how? i dont know. i doubt it'll be in the way we expect. a new car would be nice. a generous mechanic is acceptable. a better paying job for andrew w/the same flexibility would be great. i'll even take a better exterminator/attitude. some random huge checks in the mail sound good too. or even something i cant possibly dream up myself.
but its not my job to say how. its just my job to say Yes. Yes, Lord, I believe in your miracles. I've seen too many to start doubting now.

like i said, i dont know if it's Satan trying to rock my faith in God by taking away what's most precious to me, or if it's God trying to teach me a lesson in faith/patience/humility, etc. but either way, I won't give up believing God is in control.

in the meantime, I invite you to witness my miracles. the journey is not over, and im not giving up. the stories you give me to tell are worth all the suffering.